This article is also available to read in Welsh.
Julie Bush, Employability Advisor for the GROW – Graduate Opportunities Work Experience programme at the OU in Wales talks to Hanna Silk, Area Association Representative for Wales, about the opportunities available to graduates in Wales.
Julie’s role involves recruiting graduates to the GROW programme and working with them to prepare for work, meeting with employers across Wales to develop work experience opportunities and supporting those graduates who are working in a placement.
What is the GROW project?
GROW provides a great opportunity of funded work experience for graduates who completed their studies during the pandemic. We are extending the offer already available to OU graduates from the Careers and Employability Service. Graduates of OU in Wales can access extra support to prepare for their next career steps, manage any challenges they are facing and achieve their dreams.
As well as a work experience placement with an employer, paid at the National Living Wage rate, GROW can offer further, personalised employability support to help you career plan and focus on your job search. This is a fantastic opportunity for graduates to develop their work-readiness skills, gain confidence and get more experience. Itis short-term funded, and we would like as many graduates to benefit from the programme as possible.
Graduates of OU in Wales can access extra support to prepare for their next career steps, manage any challenges they are facing and achieve their dreams.
paid at the National Living Wage rate, GROW can offer further, personalised employability support to help you career plan and focus on your job search. This is a fantastic opportunity for graduates to develop their work-readiness skills, gain confidence and get more experience.
Why is it only in Wales?
GROW was set up with Welsh Government funding via the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) as part of their Covid-19 recovery plan. The government recognised the difficulties new graduates were facing in the jobs market due to the pandemic and their plan includes an emphasis on achieving better outcomes for people who will be affected most by the economic downturn, including disabled people, people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, women, and those with low skills and on low wages.
For graduates in Scotland there is a similar programme, recently launched, called Graduate Career Advantage Scotland (GCAS).
How could the GROW project help students in Wales?
GROW offers a tailored package involving some or all of the following:
GROW will match you to a paid work experience opportunity with employers in different sectors, giving you the chance to increase your understanding of a job or industry, improve your networks and get that all important experience for your CV or interviews. Work experience placements can be flexible to fit around busy lives, and most will be remote working. We have been meeting with lots of employers in Wales and have some exciting opportunities in the pipeline, including internally with the OU.
Graduates will be mentored and supported by the Employability Advisor before their work experience, whilst they are on work experience and after their work experience, including support to reflect on which skills they have developed.
Who is eligible to apply?
The fund is to support graduates who are unemployed or in low-skilled roles (not doing a job related to your skills or the qualifications you have gained).
You can apply to the GROW programme if you graduated from the Open University in Wales since 2019 or you are expecting to graduate this year. This includes all modes of study (full time and part-time) and levels (certificates, diplomas, first degree, other undergraduate, and post-graduate).
How do graduates in Wales apply?